Every year, across the world, more than 300 million people are affected by natural disasters – earthquakes, floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, drought, wildfires, tropical storms and epidemics.
Exposure to these natural hazards, and the associated risks, is exacerbated by population growth, rapid and unplanned urbanisation, environmental degradation, poor resource management and climate change.
In this context, it is vitally important that vulnerable communities are prepared to respond in the period before aid agencies arrive in the disaster zone. Experience shows indeed that the most effective life-saving efforts are usually carried out by the affected populations themselves, during and after a disaster.
For these reasons, each year, the Worldwide Decision designate a certain amount to the Disaster Preparedness program: DIPECHO.
This program was launched in 1996 and became the main component of ECHO's contribution to the global Disaster Risk Reduction.
Now DIPECHO is one of the specific objectives of the Worldwide decision and is implemented through specific DIPECHO regional HIPs
It covers eight disaster-prone regions and targets highly vulnerable communities living in there. These areas are: the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Central Asia (which now also includes the South Caucasus countries), South Asia, South East Asia, South East Africa and South West Indian Ocean and Pacific Region.
The activities that it covers are:
- Community training and capacity building;
- The provision of equipment such as search-and-rescue and first-aid kits;
- Local early warning systems;
- Emergency planning, and;
- Small-scale damage limitation works for demonstration purposes.
The projects funded under DIPECHO have the objective to improve the response capacity of communities and local public institutions in the risk zones and, until now, they have already proven to be extremely effective in limiting the damages and saving lives when hazards suddenly strike.
As any other relief provided by ECHO, also DIPECHO projects are carried out by European-based aid agencies and UN agencies in close cooperation with local NGOs and authorities.